Poems EN


Poems by Qin Sanshu
Translated by Stephen Nashef, Jia Wei, Ming Di





The sound of sliding that resembles a fistfight.
From where the tongue starts to vault at the back of the throat
comes a warning of waves that will rush round your body.

There it is. Your seawall shines its own rust-coloured finish
to receive flesh that has not stirred for some time.

An exercise of sovereignty whereby your arsenal is seized.
Look how sweat acts as seawater
to refuse and exile the atypical.

You fret into the ambush, like the tide’s
yawning mauve entrance,
where a desire once drummed up is pushed out.

With each trip there and back, a howl presses down
on the inaudible shudder of crests tailing each other.
You adopt silence to get closer, as with a new deaf acquaintance.

Ebullient particles advance millimetre by millimetre
into the rigorous maths of a two-by-two grid.
One quarter wave, one quarter nightfall…

2016, Shanghai

Translated by Stephen Nashef





It won’t get any higher. It is night-sky approaching sea-level
it is distance, from the finger pushing the doorbell
to the hot spoon pressing its divot in the food.

It is cold light scattered from unsettling cutlery,
a double portion of symptoms stirred well into some months,
the spluttering snowscape stepping toward us.

It is spoon’s metal tongue tilling
crisp white grains in the bowl, it is an excursion
to shake it awake: tuning fork’s hesitant torpor.

It is foot, inevitable departing, a step back into secondary importance.
It is naïve fibre, you reveal it
must seek help from the twilight to pry open your eyes.

It is the other kind of wet your fingers twisted,
like a hot-headed moment about to be lost
through a crack in the door, to put right the room’s scent which snapped.

2016, Shanghai

Translated by Stephen Nashef






Noon, the rain stops for a moment,
you finally get up, see the piled salt
in the picture frame scatter.

The wind stretches its slight hand to brush
the small mound of snow that fell to the earth.
Certificates of birth, hung outside the window

that green trident upstart,
the first foot of summer
tiptoes a new tune from the polka bottleneck.


Sleeping zigzagged your body
swells slightly, like the knife of Chekhov with toothache
in the moment it bites down on the board
hauls tighter the nerves that traverse the night.

Pick up a cherry, your nipplish zit half-ripens
along with the scent of late evening.

But a pinch of salt collects by your ankle,
the looped shadow parcels
the hand that ducked out before the night’s make-up was done.


See a pen, scratch off a corner
of the scratchcard of fate, though the word on the back
can’t be scraped away. The deeper eyes in the photo
are retreating, with tweezers held forth.

Stretching where? You are in a darker place
howling soft. “The courier of yesterday”:
when you speak of this, the bass rumbling in puddles,
whether or not it can rouse a new bedroom.

Yet decay is conferred unto you, and has just wiped flat the mist.
Its huge eyes scan the shears’ blades
pruning the stems, like you after the act
and you lying shoulder to shoulder.

2016, Shanghai

Translated by Stephen Nashef





At least you’re not rushing to gather clouds of courage
as they leak from spring’s night. They harden, crystallise
and charge at the tasks words pile up to become, they make
for the seducer’s tongue and try to hammer it in
to the cold shape of your sole intellectual craft. If I say
choice is our fate, what you give up half-done
becomes the template for restraint. At least when tree-shadows
edge to the midline of your face, you will not believe
words are the pills you should take before bed.
I hear a slight tug in the mouth of your throat, but your jaw
emits without warning the clamour of metal on metal;
in a moment it tensely rounds up
the body’s unruly parts as your hand takes a hold
of a light breast like a swift puzzled at dawn.
I once took the place of those fumbling hands
to steady your nerves, but instead captured
infancy inverted at the limits of vision
developing negatives in another surrogate. At least
the space my finger probes is spiral
creases sprung tight. A piece of fibre,
or a smaller envelope, binds your soft organ.
Night is a revolving door scattering light
but the blotches on objects play up
the terror skin remembers that can’t be reversed.

2016, Shanghai

Translated by Stephen Nashef





Circles of fan-shaped frontlines were advanced by a dove,
The fan-shaped shadow can be sold off at any time.
It bumps like emptied waves, dance steps stirring naivety,
But not necessarily associated with customs and intelligence.
Its head leaning to the left; at that instance, indeed grasping
Your opportunistic sentiment, though not amended;
During another moment, it contradicted the gentleman who sat cross-legged,
Warned by a slender-footed man, at least
The next moment, it did not dare to boldly exhibit brilliance,
Pulling its head back, aware of the seriousness of the square.
An obtrusive statement would be: the prestige of an icon depends on
Whether the pedestal is towering, such as the head weeping bitterly
Without making any sound beneath the petrified robe of Corneille;
Not so much as failing to hide, as deliberately revealing a heart difficult to recognize,
As if it turns out that some secret had indeed been deposited with the ancestors of doves.
Yet in its eyes, except that the morning and evening are evenly divided,
What remains are inverted and miniature imitations.
One by one, the statues fell, aggravating the doubts it once acquired,
Before going to bed for half a month: in the early winter, the new down
Grew like a thickened concentration camp; obviously can’t circle it
Yet loomed round it. Some practices are doting on something,
But the partial history is not sufficient to teach it to be
A wise man. Gluttony has rusted its flight performance,
No longer able to leap on a statue with ease,
Or to try to peck the sacred hat and tip it over,
Although the baldness has long ceased to reflect light.

2017.10.9, dedicated to Jin Ziqi
Place du Panthéon, Paris

Translated by Jia Wei





You lose your temper on time; brainwash at any time,
Your slender body easily catches a chill. With your back against night,
Caressing while eating on the sly, in the stamen,
Liquor hissing, generating a coloratura.

Dejected time and again,
You pressed childhood into a dead end.
It turned around, ashamed. You keep informing
Like a ruler: you, the last one…

You left home at a young age, your limited vision
Led to mischief and nonsense: “truth stripped me.”
You drink water in a stamen; and in turn,
The religion you secrete is wet and purer.

Alas, you procrastinate in beauty’s probation?
Lodging in the tender, yet withers like a waste?
Hand over clothes and hat to perpetuity, as if it’s all completed,
You’re waiting: some borrowed and some returned?

You are like rouge, so deep, but reflected on the surface.
Like stars, so enslaved as starry, glistening eyes.
Are you running away? You pressed me like a novice driving a tank,
Catching your breath, you are without principle.

2017.11.10,Montmartre Paris

Translated by Jia Wei





Who is burying his head as usual? Who is ruining the atmosphere?
Who is willing to stand on the bridge with inadequate vision,
Who overheard local accents but decided that it was a foreign language?
You counted, you got it and you left out something on purpose…

Just like your position was moved by scenery,
The climate will remind you at any time, where it dropped the edge.
If you were there during the last round but failed to grasp
The considerable value, you may as well grow transparent now.

This advice is not derived from experience,
But crawls perilously towards the ends of experience.
You are weary of giant trembling at the outset,
Don’t worry, all you have to do is pretending you’re not vulnerable enough.

Eyes wide opening, your heart aches at the Seine palette
Inadvertently collapsed: blue stained with mold,
Gold dust and silver foil were also humped up by fish mouth, beyond recognition.
You sighed, listening is such a red tape.

Apparently, this is from the perspective of comparative senses,
Causing you to miss out the golden period of recovery.
Sounds of lateral attacks are so vehement
As a speaker poking into the body, reciting your mistakes with its original voice.

It does best in filling your defects, it declared:
Your schedule is inaccurate as well. What is worrying is not the
Discrimination of truth from fallacy; I suppose your mistakes,
Lie in the reflection of errors on a grammar level.

It’s time to restore your vertigo to combat vertigo,
Making it adapt to the loop line of vision. It is high time to
Internalize the landscape; there’s no simpler operation than
Turning the horn to the outside and continue playing.

Moreover, please keep an imitative distance:
At once far and near from the crowd. An ideal state is not the same as
The ideal state, when you enquire about “aeonian sorrow… ?”
All the answers seem to prompt a rage within yourself.

2017.10.31, Dedicated to Su Xian
Pont du Carrousel, Paris

Translated by Jia Wei





It is you: wind trampled rain’s class,
As if cycling as well, with the same foot
Clamping steady lungs of an accordion.

Yet, your gestures are silent, which still refused to
Pull the strings behind the keys
Into the young bones of the water.

A wrong staircase, sucked into the mouth of midnight.
Your body, flimsy as a flood,
Is filling a valve of flesh.

From behind the pavilion, you were faster than a shower of rain;
Whirling out a clearing for a lotus pond.
Your voice could be spent as a silver hook.

The view you borrowed from night,
Engrossed in splitting the call for help emerged from water.
Every alternation —

Each moment light lying down in your body,
Would put a new string between incompetent hands,
Let the keys dive, slowly reaching the sound of silence.

That is to admit destruction, and that time
Is burying your feverish face.

2016.10.24, early morning, Shanghai

Translated by Jia Wei





Come through the narrow door where I speak of sins.

For three months my memory has lingered
on this oiled table, now incinerated.
You’ve put on fake flames to show how you love me

and you’ve broiled me. I feel hard and hot.
The half cooked soup rejects my tongue,
the guilty organ, and forgives

me that’s shrinking inside my atrophic body, a kernel
of rainforest. The unformed storm
touches my tears, then the thunders. I do not ask for mercy –

Vegetable leaves, the almighty, come to cover me.

But stop. My one-sided body is unable
to finish the net shaped supper,
torn between grief and loving. My face is
sliding into the water, eaten by the fish, so thin.

Stop when you reach the pond. The rain
seems to be falling upside down to bring back the dead lotus.

2013, Shanghai

Translated by Ming Di